Rebranding Disaster – British Airways Case – Lesson 2
The main problem with rebranding is that we often forget that: “if is not broken, don’t fix it”. Besides, all the risks that you take when you want to rebrand, people always get suspicious about changes.
British Airways – design identity
In 1996, Robert Ayling became the new CEO of British Airways. After a command research, they find out that only 40% of British Airways customers were British. We don’t know if they analyse what customers thought about the company, what were their attitudes or why they travel with BA, but certainly this study determined the CEO to reveal this results in the company identity. Therefore, they changed all the tails’ designed with fifty national symbols. Newell and Sorrell, a London graphic design consultancy, helped them to give the brand a more international look. Before long, the BA company faced a barrage of criticism for customers. For example, Margaret Thatcher, the PM of United Kingdom from 1979 – 1990, said:
We fly the British flag, not these awful things.
What went wrong?
Even though, they did a research, they didn’t collect the data properly. It’s necessary to correlate all the insights received in order to have suitable outcomes.
Probably, people who flew with BA preferred this company because they were proud to fly with them, and this could make them feel secure and safe. There was an emotional bond between customers and British Airways. Some corporate brands have a bigger role than represent themselves, they represent their stakeholders, but moreover they can represent a particular country. I think BA represented very well the British heritage. And this changes affected them.
After the public’s pressure, they changed design identity back. But it took almost 15 years to relaunch their brand. And this time they took into consideration British’s proudful, and I think they succeed. Now, the BA slogan is “To Fly. To Serve”.
Be careful about all emotional attachment between customers and the brand.